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I7 Gaming System - Bang For Buck & Headroom

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March 17, 2009 7:46:23 AM

I sold my old rig as I left the country for a few months for work so I'm starting over from total scratch. I'm looking to make a solid bang-for-the-buck system, with good upgradeability, and the least amount of major bottlenecks. I've been researching tons of Aantech and Toms Hardware articles and threads, as well as newegg customer revies and sample builds I've pieced togeather.

Compatibility is a big issue, and I'm sort of heart set on an i7 over AMD from all the great things I've heard about it. A few concerns *I* have are:

*Edited - New Current Plan *

LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$23.99

Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS 300GB 10000 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$199

MOTOROLA SBG900 38Mbps Downstream, 30Mbps Upstream Motorola SURFboard Wireless Cable Modem
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$99

SAMSUNG 2433BW High Glossy Black 24" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor - Retail http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$279.99

Saitek PZ30AU Black USB Wired Standard Eclipse Keyboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$34.99

OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel
$89.99

CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply
&
COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$164.98 (combo)

GIGABYTE GV-N285-1GH-B GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
&
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
&
GIGABYTE Gift - USB Mouse - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$489.99 (combo)

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail
&
Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm Fan CPU Cooler Socket 1366 Ready - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$335 (combo)

Creative FATAL1TY 3.5mm gold-plated Circumaural Gaming Headset
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$49.99

3x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21D 120mm Case Fan - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$49.99

Antec LED80XFAN 80mm Blue LED Case Fan - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$7.99

Rosewill RTK-045 45 Piece Premium Computer Tool Kit - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$19.99

ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$6.99

4x Rosewill 12" Fan power supply cable Model RCW-308 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$3.96

D&S Cables 3T8-B Black Type 8" Cable Tie - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$4.99


Totals: $1903.7

Thanks for any assistance offered!
March 17, 2009 8:11:12 AM

This case will have plenty of room and good airflow:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That 4870x2 will be wasted on that 22" monitor, I would get a 4850x2, that would be plenty for now and probably for all titles within the next year...If you don't play extremely demanding games like crysis then you can get by with a 4870 1gb, or you might consider 2 GTS 250's in sli, or 4830's in xfire, but I would opt for the 250's as it will last longer before you need to upgrade:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You get a free game with that one, sell the other on craigslist or ebay...think of it as a $35 rebate :p 

That corsair PSU you chose is good for the 4850x2, you could go with the 650tx if you went with the GTS 250's.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would go with the P6T or P6T deluxe v2 mobo personally over the EVGA board, they seem to be more stable and OC very well.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD's do not give good returns price/performance wise, I would just get a WD 640gb Cavair black...but if you want the latest and greatest speed then that is the way to go.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My choice for i7 ram, its timings, speed and price make it an excellent bargain:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
March 17, 2009 8:12:04 AM

Well nice config...
As for the case question,
Full tower provide more expansion options, better air flow...
So stick with the Full Tower...
Even a mid tower like the 900 can accomodate the X2...

U can look into these full tower because the stacker has only 2 120 fans, whereas these cases have more fans hence better air flow...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphic card and PSU:
The 750 is more than enuf for the current setup...But if u want to add one more X2, then get the 850TX(jus $10 more and u get 100W)more future proof...
Related resources
March 17, 2009 8:27:54 AM

I think I should say this, you are not getting the best bang for your buck here, more like just a lot of bang. You can build a system including monitor, OS, mouse, keyboard that will perform pretty similar to what you are looking at for $1400, perhaps less. I am assuming you are building this rig for gaming, in which case the i7 is not a good deal, Phenom II or Core 2 will perform just as well at a much cheaper price, or far better for the same price. If you will use this rig for video rendering and such then it is possible that an i7 system is warranted, but for purely gaming purposes there isn't much point besides bragging rights.
March 17, 2009 8:28:02 AM

xthekidx said:
This case will have plenty of room and good airflow:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I think xthekid is in love with this case :love:  ...has been recommending this to many... :p 
This case is really very gud with 3 120mm fans... :) 

xthekidx said:

That 4870x2 will be wasted on that 22" monitor, I would get a 4850x2, that would be plenty for now and probably for all titles within the next year...If you don't play extremely demanding games like crysis then you can get by with a 4870 1gb, or you might consider 2 GTS 250's in sli, or 4830's in xfire, but I would opt for the 250's as it will last longer before you need to upgrade:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You get a free game with that one, sell the other on craigslist or ebay...think of it as a $35 rebate :p 


I would also suggest the 4870 1GB or the GTX 260 or the 4850X2 2GB...but not any other cards like the GTS250 or the 4830...spending on these cards when u can get powerful ones doesnt make sense...given that its a 22" monitor, he can play with very high settings...
xthekidx said:

That corsair PSU you chose is good for the 4850x2, you could go with the 650tx if you went with the GTS 250's.

To make the system more futureproof, stick with the 750TX(if possible 850TX) if u are planning to get 4870 or the 260...because u can run them in CrossfireX and triple SLI with those PSUs...

xthekidx said:

I would go with the P6T or P6T deluxe v2 mobo personally over the EVGA board, they seem to be more stable and OC very well.

SSD's do not give good returns price/performance wise, I would just get a WD 640gb Cavair black...but if you want the latest and greatest speed then that is the way to go.

My choice for i7 ram, its timings, speed and price make it an excellent bargain:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

^+1 for the suggestion on the mobo, RAM and the HDD...
March 17, 2009 8:29:38 AM

As for cases, I offered the CM 690 for its performance in cooling and room to its cost, it is a fabulous case IMO. Other worthy mentions to look at for great airflow in addition to the ones mentioned by gkay are the CM HAF 932 and the CM Storm Sniper.
March 17, 2009 8:33:18 AM

xthekidx said:
I think I should say this, you are not getting the best bang for your buck here, more like just a lot of bang. You can build a system including monitor, OS, mouse, keyboard that will perform pretty similar to what you are looking at for $1400, perhaps less. I am assuming you are building this rig for gaming, in which case the i7 is not a good deal, Phenom II or Core 2 will perform just as well at a much cheaper price, or far better for the same price. If you will use this rig for video rendering and such then it is possible that an i7 system is warranted, but for purely gaming purposes there isn't much point besides bragging rights.

Well actually he is right...If u are planning for a pure gaming rig, then going with core2 makes sense...
The i7 is still in early stages and comes with the price premium...So if u want the best bang for the buck, then Core2 (Mayb even the AMD Phenom II) ...But if u want the best ur money can buy then the i7...So its ur choice... :bounce: 
March 17, 2009 8:38:25 AM

gkay09 said:
I think xthekid is in love with this case :love:  ...has been recommending this to many... :p 
This case is really very gud with 3 120mm fans... :) 

Of course I am, with its three stock 120mm fans and room to mount 3 more and a 80mm fan, who wouldn't be? :p 

gkay09 said:
I would also suggest the 4870 1GB or the GTX 260 or the 4850X2 2GB...but not any other cards like the GTS250 or the 4830...spending on these cards when u can get powerful ones doesnt make sense...given that its a 22" monitor, he can play with very high settings...

I'm confused as why you wouldn't buy the cheaper cards in an SLI or xfire setup but you would opt for the 4850x2, which is more expensive and doesn't perform as well...yes it does take up an extra pcie slot, but you get a lot more for your money buying two cheaper cards than 1 good card (again going off the misleading title of this thread...) He wouldn't have to upgrade the GPU's for a very long time with that setup if he stuck with the 22" monitor, and by the time he did it would be better to just buy 1 of the current GPU's out.

gkay09 said:
To make the system more futureproof, stick with the 750TX(if possible 850TX) if u are planning to get 4870 or the 260...because u can run them in CrossfireX and triple SLI with those PSUs...

Yeah those would both be better, but unnecessary for the setup I suggested...again trying to save a little bit of money without sacrificing performance.
March 17, 2009 8:46:32 AM

Well the reason i went for a single powerful card because people have many problems with crossfire or SLI and the cards may not scale well...
So why the hassle...
And the ones I have listed are the single card solutions...

Suggested 750 because these quality PSUs can be reused even in future setups and having more power, will be helpful if not now but in future...
March 17, 2009 8:48:40 AM

thanks for all the assistance guys. I'm going for value, but I also want to set my rig up for a bit of futrepoofing. Every 6 months or so I'll go for another high-value new tech piece or 2 that would be the neck system bottleneck...

Would you say to go for a 24" monitor even?

As for the graphics cards, would it not be better to go with 1 newer card over 2 older cards (if similarly priced/performming) as so 9 months from now, if I wanna throw some more bang in system, I could purchase another of the same newer vid card and up my performance?

Would going with 1x 4850X2 or 1x 4870 be the best option in that case? or still 2 4850 regulars?

Some links to good vid cards would be great, I have the Sapphire 4850X2 2 GB selected right now for an affordable $270...i7 Gaming System - Bang For Buck & Headroom

PS- I swapped to the ASUSdeluxe mobo suggested, the OCZ ram, and the corsair 850W PSU so far.

Thanks again guys and girls
March 17, 2009 8:53:22 AM

Also, is that Vigor Monsoon III the best way to go? I also hear complaints about it's size... Will the 4850X2 and that thing both fit in that case recommneded by thekid (mid-tower)? What if I added another card to Xrossfire with later?
March 17, 2009 9:00:47 AM

Mobo layout will be the determining factor if you can use that cooler and GPU, not the case. I use the v8 in that case and it fits fine, you can fit any air cooler you want in the CM 690. I would go for this cooler instead though if you want the best air cooling you can get:
http://www.heatsinkfactory.com/thermalright-ultra-120-e...

If you want the best price performance ratio:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and backplate for i7:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
March 17, 2009 9:02:31 AM

Well about the fit and the case xthekid will be able to help u out...
As for the graphics card, get the 4870 1GB(even the GTX 260 is a gud buy now)...it will be the best option for the 22"
If u are planning to get the 24", the 4870 1GB can handle it but u will not be able to play at very high settings...If u want to play at full settings, then get the 4850X2
March 17, 2009 9:04:57 AM

I have a feeling TS is dead set on an i7 and with OS added in that would be $2300 thereabouts so this would be some $1000 cheaper hehe

Also Anandtech did a multi GPU bench just 3 weeks ago with the latest driver so again you could analyse which GPU gives the best bang for $$ which in this case is on 1920 x 1200 resolution
http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3517&p=6



March 17, 2009 9:06:44 AM

^+1 for the 4850 2GB...(but going through its reviews in newegg has given me mixed feelings)
March 17, 2009 9:08:23 AM

gkay09 said:
Well the reason i went for a single powerful card because people have many problems with crossfire or SLI and the cards may not scale well...
So why the hassle...
And the ones I have listed are the single card solutions...

The 9800 GTX+ is basically the same card as the GTS 250, but the GTS has a smaller G92 GPU 55nm so its not as hot and consumes less power. The GTX+ scales very well in almost all games, I think I have seen a couple where it didn't do so well.
March 17, 2009 9:18:15 AM

xthekidx said:
The 9800 GTX+ is basically the same card as the GTS 250, but the GTS has a smaller G92 GPU 55nm so its not as hot and consumes less power. The GTX+ scales very well in almost all games, I think I have seen a couple where it didn't do so well.

Hmm for the current games is gud...
But when upgrading his PC, he will be left with 2 old cards to change...
So he can stick with his option of getting a 4870 1GB now and add another later...will be more future proof and he would just have to add another rather than replacing 2 old cards...
March 17, 2009 9:21:32 AM

Knocked system down to $1900 w/ shipping from $2200 which is really nice...not really sure where else to shave.

Think I'm going to go with the 4850 X2 2GB, as I realized the 4870 1GB by itself only has 256 RAM.

Thoughts? Monitor? I was looking at some 24"ers and theres a few attractive 23" This monitor, at 22" supposebly has amazing quality though.
March 17, 2009 9:25:39 AM

drakleon84 said:
Knocked system down to $1900 w/ shipping from $2200 which is really nice...not really sure where else to shave.

Think I'm going to go with the 4850 X2 2GB, as I realized the 4870 1GB by itself only has 256 RAM.

Thoughts? Monitor? I was looking at some 24"ers and theres a few attractive 23" This monitor, at 22" supposebly has amazing quality though.



EDIT : u meant 256 bit memory bus right...it has 1GB GDDR5 RAM ...
March 17, 2009 9:28:47 AM

Yeah, sorry
March 17, 2009 9:39:47 AM

Its a good res for gaming, but I wouldn't recommend it over a 19x12 monitor, I like the extra vertical pixels. They tend to be cheaper too because they aren't as expensive to make.
March 17, 2009 9:58:09 AM

Updated with a better bang/buck scenario:

ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail ($289)
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor ($289)
CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 ($135)
COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ($80)
Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm Fan CPU Cooler ($60)
OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel ($110)
Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive ($180)
SAPPHIRE 100270SR Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR3 ($290)
ASUS VW246H Black 24" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor ($270)

Thoughts?
March 17, 2009 10:08:55 AM

Since I moved up to a 24" monitor, should I look for different graphic card options then?

I'm also slowly being swayed into the Phenom II X4 Denab, cause the price w/ mobo sure is hard to pass up....

Could then afford a better graphics card for the 24" monitor....

But would I just be saving cost immediatly, and not down the road if I get my i7 now?
March 17, 2009 10:09:56 AM

Well the setup looks fine...
But I doubt the velociraptor will offer any significant real world performance advantage than the current HDDs...

U can get the WD Black series HDD like this one
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
in RAID 0 and am sure they will offer nearly the same performance...

So u can reconsider the velociraptor...and before buying it, google around the net for its performance comparisions and see if it is a gud buy...
March 17, 2009 10:14:09 AM

drakleon84 said:
Since I moved up to a 24" monitor, should I look for different graphic card options then?

I'm also slowly being swayed into the Phenom II X4 Denab, cause the price w/ mobo sure is hard to pass up....


Lolz

drakleon84 said:

Could then afford a better graphics card for the 24" monitor....

But would I just be saving cost immediatly, and not down the road if I get my i7 now?


Well actually a gud idea...but when u r willing to spend about $1500 or more on a computer build, then u shuld go with the core i7

If u are willing to keep it down to around $1000 then u can consider the P II...
March 17, 2009 10:16:11 AM

Well even though its a 24" monitor, its still has less resolution 1920X1080 compared to the 1900X1200...So u wont have to change ur graphics card...
March 17, 2009 10:23:59 AM

I'd personally go the Phenom 2 route as well, the platform offers the same or better gaming performance at a reduced cost.

But if you're really set on the i7, here's my suggestions.

Dell S2309W ($299)
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displays/pr...

Or for a little cheaper
DEll S2209W ($239)
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displays/pr...

Dell monitors are among the best in my opinion.

Personally i think that PSU is a tad overkill, especially since i'm going to suggest a single card over a dual-chip design.
Corsair 650watt ($94.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For the CPU Cooler, if you're willing to go a little more extreme i'd try out the CoolIT Eliminator. It utilizes liquid cooling and uses a TEC. Basically it can cool the processor below ambient temperatures making it extremely valuable for overclocking. It runs about $200. Again it's just a suggestion.

You can double the capacity of your hard drive for another $50. Velociraptor 300gb ($229)

Returning to my previously mentioned graphic card suggestion. I personally am wary about dual-chip designs due to driver issues. And micro-stuttering. I'd steer clear of them and just run a single card like the 4870 1gb till it starts to show its age. At which point you could decide to upgrade or not.

Also i think you mentioned earlier you were worried about the 256bit bus on a graphics card. It's not an issue, the speed of the memory on the 4870 helps prevent it from be a problem.

Hope i provided some god food for thought :) 
March 17, 2009 10:29:06 AM

How about this monitor then?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Native reso is 1920x1200 it lists..

Let's suppose I go with a 24" 1920x1200 monitor....

Would I be better off with which option for performace/value/future upgradeability:

A. i7 w/ ASUS Deluxe & 4850X2

B. Phenom 2 X4 Denab & 4870 2GB

If there's a better 3rd option, please offer it :) 
March 17, 2009 10:34:04 AM

Lucius: You wouldn't recommend going for a 1920x1200 monitor?
March 17, 2009 11:04:41 AM

4850x2 2gb would do fine on a 19x12 res I think, 4870x2 if you like really intense games like Crysis.
March 17, 2009 11:44:41 AM

xthekidx said:

PS I still think GTS 250 SLI would be good :p 

:kaola:  u don give up ur options so easy :lol: 
March 17, 2009 11:47:15 AM

Basically coming down to a $350 difference if I wanna go i7, so I guess my end resulting question is if it's worth $350 to have an X58 mobo, DDR3 ram and the i7 over an X2 Phenom and DDR2 ram with a $130 mobo.... here's a bit more detailed:

Budget:

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GP-UD4H ATX AMD Motherboard &
AMD Phenom II X4 940 3.0GHz Black Edition Quad-core Processor
($288.99)
SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4850 X2 100270SR Video Card
($289.99)
G.SKILL 4GB (4 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Quad Channel
($59.99)

versus

i7 Rig:

Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
($288.99)
ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 ATX Intel Motherboard
($289.99)
OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory
($109.99)
2x EVGA GeForce GTS 250 01G-P3-1155-TR Video Card
($309.98)
March 17, 2009 11:52:31 AM

I could knock it down to about $320~ difference if I went with the same 4850X2 or with the cheaper 512 MB Zotac 250's (the ones I selected were 1GB each)
March 17, 2009 11:52:40 AM

Yep, and for most people the difference in price does not justify difference in performance. It would not for me at any rate, only reason I got an i7 is because my fiance uses it for video editing.
March 17, 2009 12:03:23 PM

Don get the 4X1 GB kit...get a 2X2GB...they are cheaper...
March 17, 2009 12:05:39 PM

And if u choose the Phenom II, their mobos support oly Crossfire and not SLI...
xthekid gave the GTS SLI suggestion for the i7 build...
:D  then my suggestion will be gud...
Get a 4870 1GB now and add another later...
March 17, 2009 12:13:29 PM

Or stick wit the 4850X2
March 17, 2009 12:27:34 PM

think i've settled on the i7 build with the 4850X2, objections?

also, not really sorted on a monitor to take advantage of the rig and at a good price
March 17, 2009 4:27:04 PM

drakleon84 said:
Lucius: You wouldn't recommend going for a 1920x1200 monitor?


It's not that i wouldn't recommend a 1920x1200, but they cost a fair bit more.
March 17, 2009 8:12:12 PM

The BenQ is one of the best gaming monitors out there, it gets rave reviews, that samsung is very nice too though.
March 17, 2009 8:33:25 PM

If you keep an eye on each item you want on your wish list, you'll get them cheaper. Just look for the sales, I built a sexy i7 rig for 1750.00$ Just don't buy the first cheap price you find, research and do your homework. Visit different websites don't just google.
March 17, 2009 8:52:03 PM

Just make sure to get an IPS based LCD monitor. Those TN panels are complete fricking garbage. The viewing angles, colors, brightness etc are garbage on pretty much anything besides IPS.
March 17, 2009 11:17:11 PM

p05esto said:
Just make sure to get an IPS based LCD monitor. Those TN panels are complete fricking garbage. The viewing angles, colors, brightness etc are garbage on pretty much anything besides IPS.


I wouldn't call TN panels garbage. They honestly aren't bad. They definitely aren't photo grade, true.

Second, you clearly haven't used a good S-PVA panel. I would say either IPS or PVA is an excellent choice for a monitor that looks significantly better than TN.
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